The global semiconductor shortage seeping through the automotive industry (and most other industries) is likely forcing consumers to fix and maintain their old cars rather than buy new ones.
That is trickling down to auto parts retailers like Advance Auto Parts (AAP 0.99%), which just reported record first-quarter results.
Computer chips that run today's autos are in short supply, causing production disruptions at Ford, General Motors, and NIO.
With factories temporarily closed, fewer cars are being produced, and that may be causing car owners to hang on to their rust buckets a little while longer. Advance Auto Parts and other retailers including AutoZone and Genuine Parts, which owns the NAPA Auto Parts chain, are seeing sales and profits soar as a result.
Advance said first-quarter sales jumped 23% to $3.3 billion as comparable-store sales surged nearly 25% from the year-ago period while adjusted earnings of $3.34 per share more than tripled.
Average car prices are rising at rates that far outstrip inflation. J.D. Power says the average price of a new car was $37,200 in the first quarter, 8% higher than a year ago, while used-car prices are soaring 26% year over year.
No doubt that's what Advance Auto Parts CEO Tom Greco was referring to when he said "both [do-it-yourself] and professional customers turned to Advance for their automotive needs amid a strong industry backdrop."
Consumers were also flush with cash from a third stimulus check, which might make similar growth rates for automotive industry stocks much more difficult in the future. Yet as pressure from chip shortages, production shutdowns, and higher new- and used-car prices weigh on consumers, keeping the jalopy going one more year should help Advance Auto Parts' top and bottom lines.